My 3 year old is so mean to her little brother....how do I handle it?

Mandy - posted on 06/25/2010 ( 4 moms have responded )

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I'm beginning to lose my mind....my 3 year old daughter is so mean to her 16 month old brother. She does the normal picking on him stuff like taking his toys and bugging him but its not just that. She hits him, sits on him, pulls his hair, pushes him, screams at him right in his face, tells me she doesn't love him and wants him to go in the garbage, says she wants to smack him across his face......I know siblings pick on each other but its all the time and seems so extreme I can't imagine this being normal. What i do know is immediately stop her from whatever it is she is doing to him, place her in time out, and talk to her about being nice and that she can't hurt him.....(sometimes I admit that I yell when she just keeps at it and at it....I try not to tho).....time out isn't working, what else can I do? Any advice?

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App+7mnejhu - posted on 06/27/2010

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You probably won't like my answer but my 4 year old who was three when my now year old was born was like this. I tried to talking to him and do the time out thing but he was starting to get rather mean. Your child might just be feeling neglected, replaced, etc. It is hard for children to deal with not having all of the attention that they are used to. My first recommendation is to validate any of these feelings andsee if the two of you can come up with alternate solutions. What can she do instead when she is mad at her brother, go hit a pillow, etc. She needs to learn to express her feelings and not feel condemed for doing so. However, none of this worked for my son, who I have to admit is a little bit different in character than your typical four year old. I finally started doing the things to my son that he was doing to his sister. I know it seems mean but it worked and it worked quickly. He once smacked her on the back of the head and I did the same to him right after he did it and asked him how that made him feel and when he said it made him feel bad, I told him that is how his sister feels when he does it to her. You pretty much have to catch them in the act as they are doing it or your point may be missed. The point I need to make is, is that you do not have to do it hard, just enough to get her attention and do not do it out of anger. Sometimes children at this age are too young to rationalize their actions but if they can see what it is like through the other child's eyes, it does get the message across. I hope this helps. If it makes you feel any better, my two get along excellent now. He now wants to do everything with his sister. I never thought that day would come but thankfully it has! Best of Luck :)

Cindy - posted on 06/28/2010

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I have a Master's Degree in Early Childhood, so rest assured this is normal. Maybe a little extreme, but normal nonetheless.

She is jealous. The best thing I have always found to help children who have a strong will is to help them with their internal struggle, which is all that this is. Children want to be bigger than they are, but at the same time know mommy or daddy will take care of everything for them. This is usually the reason behind a lot of emotional volatility. Make sure she has her own special time with each adult family member she lives with. Let her know this is her time and her time along. I don't know if you are married or not, that is why I said that. However it needs to happen, someone needs to watch the baby and you and her need your own alone time (more than reading one book.) You need to get on her level and play and listen. Now once you do this, she will want more and more from you. You will have to set boundaries, starting with when it is your brothers time it is his time. Since he is a baby and not a big girl like you, sometimes you are going to have to wait. Waiting is the hardest thing for children and you have to start teaching it at some point. Just hold your breath and dive in.

As much as you can, find ways for her to be your helper and praise her for that. Between special time with you and (her dad ?), and responsibilities for being a big girl, some of this will be alleviated. For an example, have her bring you a diaper for the baby. Let her be next to you and talk about how much she helps you and thank her for that.

This acting out, is an important time to teach empathy. Praise her for being gentle with him every time she is and tell how it hurt her brother and you when she is not gentle. Just some thoughts...

Carolyn - posted on 11/14/2014

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I totally agree with the mom who did the same thing to the aggressor as she was doing to the younger child. Children as young as three are unable to reason what it would feel like if the act was done to her, etc. She needs to have the same experience as the younger child is having to demonstrate that her behavior is objectionable and totally unacceptable. The younger child shouldn't be expected to be a whipping post just because the older child is a brat. Nip this in the bud.

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Starr - posted on 10/16/2012

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Hi,my 3yr old acts the exact same way to his 17 mo old sister.I am 100% sure he has adhd! I have tried everything,even what the other people have advised you to do.I feel like im gonna go crazy,about to have a nervous breakdown!None of my other kids acted like this and i am OUT of patients.Dont know what else to try and i fear for my daughter when im not looking...what do you do?How do you keep sane and not exploding on him??It really is painful for me and i am sooooo stressed by the time i wake up in the morning!!Have you found any new tricks yet?!?......starr---email:jessstarr333@gmail.com

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